Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wwii Hero Nicholas Oresko Dies at 96

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wwii Hero Nicholas Oresko Dies at 96

Article excerpt

Nicholas Oresko of Cresskill, the nation's oldest Medal of Honor recipient, died Friday evening, surrounded by veterans and military personnel who had gathered there all week after hearing on social media that he was in the hospital with a broken leg.

Oresko, 96, was a U.S. Army master sergeant during World War II, when, although badly wounded, he wiped out two enemy bunkers near Tettingen, Germany, during the Battle of the Bulge.

He died at 6:30 p.m. at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center of complications from surgery for a broken right femur, said John "Jack" Carbone, a family friend. That was the same leg injured by gunfire on Jan. 23, 1945, as he crawled from one enemy bunker to another.

Oresko had no living immediate family, but he was never alone at the hospital after being taken there earlier in the week from a Cresskill assisted living facility, Carbone said. Veterans and young members of various branches of military service were at his side, with more than two dozen at the hospital Friday afternoon before he was taken to have surgery.

"The kids held his hand and prayed with him," Carbone said.

One of Oresko's friends, Richard E. Robitaille, had sent emails about the honored veteran's condition this week to students at Berkeley College in Woodland Park, where he is the vice president of military veterans affairs. Robitaille said those students posted the information on Facebook and other sites, leading to a massive outpouring of affection for Oresko from people across the country.

"They understood the type of person we were talking about and said, 'We can't let him die alone,' " Robitaille said, adding that people have come from as far away as Maine and Maryland to visit Oresko during the week. "He's loved throughout the Army. He's an American hero."

He said that an Army unit in Afghanistan waved a flag in Oresko's honor on Tuesday and mailed it to the hospital, but it had not yet arrived.

Horrific battle

Another longtime friend who was at the hospital on Friday, Bob Jerome of Park Ridge, said Oresko enjoyed speaking to young people. …

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